To get great composition, there are several rules to follow. This rule of “ODDS” makes sense and your composition will be much better.


The rule of odds states that, whenever possible, a composition should have an odd number of objects, not an even number of objects. So an image should have three flowers rather than two, and five people rather than four.

The rule of odds states that, whenever possible, a composition should have an odd number of objects, not an even number of objects. So an image should have three flowers rather than two, and five people rather than four.


The rule of odds taps into the brain’s propensity to create order.

You see, when viewing a group of objects, we unconsciously want to group them in pairs.

But when we’re faced with three, five, or seven objects in a photograph…

…we have a group that can’t be easily organized.

With an odd number of objects, one may become dominant. At the very least, the viewer will look longer at the image, moving between the individual elements.

That is the power of the rule of odds in photography.

It creates a composition that makes the viewer’s brain work a little harder and look a little longer.

Three, five, or seven objects can work well.

Once you move beyond these single-digit numbers, we tend to treat all of the objects as a group – even if they’re odd.

Any odd number will work. Here are 5 daisies, and it just makes the photo work better.

Like the photo above, flowers can make great subjects for tapping into the rule of odds. If you are arranging the flowers in the scene yourself, think about using a group of three or five rather than an even number.

three flowers together
This was a matter of framing the shot to include just these three flowers.


When you are out in the landscapes of the world, it is probably not the place to try to do the rule of Odds, as you are working on taking photos of the scenery, and there is not anything with odd numbers in a scenery photo. However, one thing you could do while out in the landscapes, is look for things that are in odd numbers, like we see below:

While out taking scenery photos, look for opportunities to use the rule of odds.

Now when you are out taking photos, and you are looking for opportunities to use the “Rule of odds”, there is going to be obvious times when you just can’t apply this rule.

If you’re taking a photo of Mount Rushmore. Who are you going to leave out to adhere to the rule of odds? You just can’t do it. If you are taking pictures of people, you can’t always do it if there’s an even number of people.


Now, we realize that one is an odd number too, but, in this case, it is best to use one as maybe the “odd one out”. This can be very powerful.

Simply seek out scenes and compositions where something in the image is odd, different, out of place, or doesn’t match.

They engage the mind of your viewer, drawing attention to the odd object and making your viewer look a little longer at your photo.

The rule of odds in photography - one dark tree in front of lighter rows of trees
In this photo, the single different tree makes this a powerful photo.
The rule of odds in photography - one pink flower surrounded by yellow flowers
Another great one using the rule: THE ODD ONE.


The odd one is one powerful tool in creating well composed photos. Look for opportunities to use odd numbers, and even if there is only one, make it more of the “Odd one” amongst other subjects.

Some of the photos, and text are compliments of Rich Ohnsman – and was posted on Digital Photography School

We just posted yesterday our 1,100th blog. If you are looking for any subject in photography, use the search bar below to find any photo subject you want to learn more about. This will bring up any blogs I have previously done:


Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

When we talk about the rules to good photos, there is the usual rules of composition:

  • The rule of thirds
  • leading lines in your photo
  • Don’t center the subject
  • Use framing
  • And there is a few others that may or not be important.

But, then I found this photo and explanation by the Photographer: Ken Lee.

He has found that there will be obvious situations where you need to break the rules. Read through this carefully and see what you think:


I have a major theme through all my blogs, and I write about them often: THE ART OF SEEING:

I did a whole blog on this particular subject. For reference, go to:


There is a list of a few rules of composition at the top of this page. Also, to go over some of the rules of composition, go to:

The reason you want to know the rules of composition are this: Once you know the rules, and you go to take your photo, can you do the photo within the bounds of the rules of composition? If not, then it’s ok to take a photo, if you feel that the photo will be better by not going by the rules. That is the whole reason for this blog today, and using the quote from Mr. Lee above, is BREAK THE RULES IS OK. But, if you don’t know the rules of composition, then you may make a bunch of mistakes because you took the photo and broke the rules, and it looks awful.


I once judged a state fair and was to pick the photos who should take 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the competition. Once I had completed the job, one of the photographers in the “Professional” division was not happy that his photo was not chosen. He went to the Fair Officials and said the judges were incapable of picking good photos. The Fair board officials told him that I had been judging photos for years, and they were standing by me.

His photo could have been better. And I didn’t pick the photo because it could have followed the rule of thirds and be a better picture. Some people, including those who think they are professionals, don’t know the rules. So, The rules of composition are important. But, if you must break any of the rules of composition, and it turns out better, then it will be noticed as a great photo.


give your subject space to look into

Once asked: ‘When taking pictures of people which side is it best to put them on, the right or the left?’

As a rule (and we all know that they are made to be broken) if the person (and it works with animals too) you are photographing is looking in one direction or even if their head is pointing in that direction it is best to place them on the opposite side of the frame.

give your subject space to look into

You’ll see it best illustrated in the images on this page – in each case the person is not being photographed head on but have their head pointing either to the left or the right. As a result the photographer has given them some space on the side that they are pointing/looking.

The reason for this is that when a person views an image with a person looking in one direction or the other their eyes also are drawn in that direction. In a sense you’re giving the subject of your image some space to look into and in doing so create a natural way for the photos viewer to flow into the photo also.

Even just a slight turn of the head can be effectively framed using this technique.

Breaking the Rule

Of course, breaking this rule produces interesting shots (in some cases more so). They might not be as aesthetically pleasing on some levels and could leave those viewing your images feeling a little on edge but this type of reaction to photos can be quite powerful also.


Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

The above article is courtesy of Darren Rowse with Digital photography school.